Jonathan K. Waldrop
Education: JD, University of Virginia School of Law; BS with honors, Harvard University
Company Name: Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP
Company CEO: Marc E. Kasowitz, managing partner
Company Headquarters Location: New York, New York
Number of Employees: 416
Your Location (if different from above): California
Words you live by: No matter what it looks like in the Natural, God has already worked it out in the Supernatural.
Who is your personal hero? My grandfather, Melvin Turner, Sr., the greatest ever
What book are you reading? Belisarius: The Last Roman General by Ian Hughes
What was your first job? Packing groceries at a grocery store
Favorite charity: CASA of San Mateo County
Interests: Reading history, exercise, yoga, listening to music, and world travel (before COVID-19)
Family: Cristal (wife of 19 years), Mason (16) and Anderson (14)
You Belong Everywhere
As an African American partner at a national law firm, I am the living embodiment of the American Dream. I’m the great-great-grandson of one of Alabama’s largest plantation owners, the great-grandson of a slave, and the grandson of a World War II and Korean War veteran who worked 35 years in a steel mill to raise 13 children in Alabama.
However, while I have been able to achieve my version of the American Dream and hold the door open for the next generation, I have not always felt entitled to, that I had a right to, or part of the American Dream. As I advanced in my career (and grew personally), I cultivated great mentors along the way who encouraged me to continue on my path and offered me invaluable advice that has empowered me to accept my power. They also instilled in me the knowledge that I like every other American am entitled to and have the right to live the American Dream, and to do so abundantly and unapologetically.
My hope is that if everyone takes heed of the advice that was passed on to me many years ago, we can make this country the truly diverse, rich America we all deserve.
Be authentic. “No one can beat you at being you.” By that, I mean be you. All of you. Early in my career, one of my mentors told me that no one could beat Jon Waldrop at being Jon Waldrop. Once I understood that I could be successful as myself, I became unstoppable. I no longer compared myself to others. I found creative ways to leverage my unique talents and abilities, and to contribute, and became an indispensable team member and leader.
You belong here. “No one is more American than me.” This same mentor reminded me that I belong wherever I am. Don’t second guess the opportunities that come your way. Don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t belong. You belong everywhere in this country. The price has already been paid; claim the victory.
Seek out like-minded people. “We don’t care what you look like. What’s important is that you are effective.” Marc Kasowitz, the managing partner of my firm, gave me this advice in 2011 at a pivotal point in my career. As a champion and fierce advocate of diversity, I firmly believe you should seek out people who believe in and live by this ethos. I’m fortunate that my firm and colleagues embody this ethos, which has not only been instrumental to my professional success at the firm, but it also has created an environment where I can flourish as my authentic self.